ST. LOUIS — The folks at the Salvation Army are excited to ring in the 75th anniversary of their Tree of Lights Campaign. The historic, Christmas event is the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser.
“The money that’s raised every year helps not just our work at Christmas with toys and food and thing, but it also provides help throughout the year,” Major Kjell Steinsland with the Salvation Army said.
But a thief has left the folks at the charity singing an early 'bah humbug.'
“It’s very upsetting for all of us,” Steinsland said.
On the night of Nov. 15, the Salvation Army hosted its weekly community dinner at its temple and community center on Arsenal in south city.
Major Steinsland said while workers were feeding and helping family in need, a heartless soul was helping their self to the agency’s 2017, white Chevy Traverse.
The cruel culprit stole the vehicle right off the organization’s unlocked parking lot.
“I’m not sure where their heart’s at, but I know it wasn’t in the right place. We believe it was somebody in the community. Maybe somebody who knew their way around and had been here before," Steinsland said.
He also said that because the crook took the keys from a drawer in their office and then took off with one of their four vehicles.
The Salvation Army’s staff uses the SUV year-round for a variety of services.
“Oh, that’s just a shame. I’m sad to hear that,” one holiday shopper said.
“They didn’t deserve that at all,” 19-year-old Sam Crosier said.
Crossier is just one of several bell ringers who rely on the vehicle to pick up and distribute Christmas toys to needy kids.
“All we’re trying to do id do good out here. I hope the person who stole our vehicle will do the right thing and return it,” Crosier said.
“I think our annual campaign will be fine, but for the local office, it does make their jobs that much more difficult,” Steinsland said.
The Salvation Army hopes to raise more than six million dollars during its Tree of Lights Campaign.
Meantime, they’re also working on installing security cameras at the south side center.